1918 DWM Death Head

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This is an excellent example of the 1914 Model DWM (Deutsches Waffen Und Munitionsfabriken Co) Manufactured Pistole-08. The chamber marking represent the military contract year of production and this example is a 1918 dated Luger. The Death's Head (Totenkoft) are usually on 1917 or 1918 making this a very difficult Luger for the collector to achieve.   (1991)

NOTE: Photographs taken today with the high mega-pixel camera show more than we sometimes can see with the human eye. Magnified close-ups show us tool marks and natural surface conditions that one normally doesn't see in the ordinary handling of the weapon.  Photographs are copyrighted, all rights reserved, any extraction, reproduction or display of gun pictures without the express consent of the Phoenix Investment Arms is strictly prohibited. Thank you for your cooperation.  Please visit Legal (tabbed) for Conditions of Sale.

 

The Death Head or Scull had always presented a mythical symbol to strike fear. The early Prussian/Hungarian light calvary were extremely good nomadic fighters. During WWI the development of the Storm Troop concept of stealth approach to enemy trenches and then mounting a fierce attack with shock troops and flame throwers into enemy trenches.

 

Above Left: After WWI but before the establishment of the Weimar Republic (August 1919) and the establishment of the Reichswehr on January 1, 1921 which was limited to 100,000 men it was left to the police and the private Freikorps to maintain order and fight the communists whose success in Russia led them to an unsecured Germany.

 

This is chambered for 9mm and has a standard 4" barrel (100mm) fixed sights and walnut grips.   This WWI Luger manufactured for standard issue firearm to the German military. The extractor is marked "Geladen" on the left side and the safety is marked "Gesichert" with the safe position being downward. The proof marks are the amazing story of this guns.
This Luger is all matching including the magazine.  This Luger bears a stock lug and a hold-open. It has the short sear, short frame and a hold open.  The gun shows the standard holster wear from a 95 yr. old gun that saw service in WWI.
The underside of the gun shows slight wear and the commercial Crown N proof.  
The serial number appears on the front of the frame, on the left side of the receiver, on the side plate sear and trigger. This Luger is all matching including the magazine.  The gun shows the standard holster wear from a 99 yr. old gun that saw service in WWI and with the Freikorps in the late 1919-1930.
The right side of the receiver only one of the Imperial Army acceptance stamps. Original grips are finely cut diamond shaped checkering made from walnut or in some cases beech wood. These grips are serial numbered to the gun. The original firing pins were marked with the serial number and  when manufactured the original grips were marked to the gun.  Since firing pins and grips wear and break it is not unusual to find unmarked firing pins or replacement grips.

 

The Sturmtrupp (Storm Trooper) identification badge was meant to recognize those volunteers that made up these assault units who proved to be very successful. It appeared to the Generals and the troops that they were winning the war but it was becoming evident that air power or the lack of it for the Germans was leaving them exposed and losses were becoming excessive.
Below: Post-War Freikorps continued to use the Totenkopf (Scull) with their fight with the communists.

 

 

The barrel is stamped with the German Commercial Crown N Acceptance Stamp and it is clear that the Death Head (Skull) was rolled onto the head space above the date.  We have seen several of these guns and the authentic ones are all the same 1917-1918 which must have been special issue to Pioneer or Sturm force units or when adopted by the Werewolf units of the Freikorps.
Above Left: a full silver sleeved crimped magazine with the wood bottom puts the magazine in the late 1918 production period. After 1920 the magazines began to be blued with wood bottoms and then came the introduction of the aluminum bottoms.  Above Right: With the toggles in full recoil one can see the rear main axel pin and the function of the knee toggle action.
While there is a general conformity to the markings of the WWI period there is no serial number on the rear toggle. The front of this 9mm shows the distinct lands and grooves of the barrel indicating this nicely barrelled Parabellum didn't see maximum service.
The infamous "Death Head" is a very highly sought Luger by collectors and this one presents an unusual link between the 1st World War production and the inscriptions of the Death Head.  There is no known documents attributing these death heads to factory production. Yet they appear only on 1917-1918 dated models. This glimse into the proudction of this gun with just one Imperial proof and then the commercial Crown N numbered in the military manner links the "Death Head" into the 1920's Freikorps as the origin of the markings.

 

The early Weimar Republic can be said to be "saved" by the veteran German soldiers from WWI  who banded together into "Free Corps" [Freikorps] to fight the communists particularly in Northern Germany, Eastern Prussia, Silesia, and Poland. Oftentimes a very effective military force and lasting, in some parts of  Germany until 1933. A huge ceremony was arranged on 9 November 1933 in which the Freikorps leaders symbolically presented their old battle flags to Hitler's SA and SS. It was a sign of allegiance to their new authority, the Nazi state.

 

The right side of the receiver displays all the Imperial Army acceptance stamps. Original grips are finely cut diamond shaped checkering made from walnut or in some cases beech wood. These grips are serial numbered to the gun. The original firing pins is marked with the serial number and when manufactured the original grips were marked to the gun.  Since firing pins and grips wear and break it is not unusual to find unmarked firing pins or replacement grips.

The serial numbers are displayed under the barrel, on the front side of the locking lever, on the top of the trigger and on the left side of the receiver.

Above Left: The Imperial inspectors at the DWM factory stamped the receiver at each stage of their inspection. With just one Crown proof this gun must have been on the assembly line when the war ended and the government employees immediately left. The Crown N is seen as the acceptance proof in the (lazy) horizontal position which was changed when assembly began again in 1919.
Circle N Proof 1919 Luger

Sturgess in Volume II ¶894 notes the Circle N as a rarely found commercial proof, only found on commercial Parabellum prior to 1917 (-b suffix). So with the Circle N on both the frame and the receiver and the horizontal Crown N we we can see this was produced at the very end of the war, not solving the dates of the Death Head but bringing it to the era of Post-War.

We can conclude from what information we have assembled is that after November 11, 1918 production continued at the DWM plant until late December when they ran out of coal to operate the boilers that ran the machines. These semi-Imperial proofed Parabellums were made from what was on the line.

 

The Freicorps 

Below "The men of the storm group "Adolph Hitler"

 

 

The inside of the gun is as clean and well maintained as the exterior. you can see all the matching serial numbers on all the small parts and the short sear of the post 1915 models, the thumb safety down (Safe) with the German word Gesichert (safe).  Below:  Above the breechblock their is a raised signal marked Geladen    to tell the shooter that the gun is loaded.  This can be felt in the dark so all one had to do was release the safety  and the noise of cocking the gun did not give the shooter away.
The magazine is one of the Imperial style from WWI with the silver metal wrapped and crimped, an internal coil spring and the wooden bottom serial numbered to the gun.

This gun represents a real piece of history being completed at the very end of the First World War with the very last of the Stage I proofing and being completed after the Armistice. The Parabellum was then assigned to a Death Head Werewolf unit fighting the communists in between the wars. While eventually disarmed by the German Government they formed the political and later armed units of the SA and SS.

Above Left: Inside this Luger is the "hold open" that contains the last two digits of the serial number. Above Right: The rear toggle is blank which is very uncustomary of any Parabellum that are factory assembled. This further points us into the period where the end of WWI production and the official resumption of production in 1920-21 which prohibited the production of commercial guns by the French component of the monitoring committee of the Treaty of Versailles in July 1921. 
It is entirely subjective to give any firearm a rating of excellent or fine, just as it is to declare it xx% blued or strawed. Few collectible weapons are out of the box new and these are premium priced. Bluing percentages is like Beauty, in the eye of the beholder.  We strive to provide pictures so you can judge for yourself if the gun meets your criteria. Any questions or request for additional purchases email to josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com This firearm is eligible for transfer to C&R permit holder, even in California.  We are registered with CA DOJ for firearms shipment.

 

After defeating the communists throughout German in 1919 and 1920 they were officially disbanded. Unofficially they continued as a veteran/social bund. A huge ceremony was arranged on 9 November 1933 in which the Freikorps leaders symbolically presented their old battle flags to Hitler's SA and SS. It was a sign of allegiance to their new authority, the Nazi state. By that time the SS had already adopted the death head (1934) without the bone and a full jaw turning to the right.

 

 

This end of WWI produced 1918 DWM with the Totenkopf "Death Head" is an extraordinary example linking the Death Head into the 20's. This is a very good condition Parabellum and offered for $3,275.00 over the counter. This Parabellum show honest holster wear and a strong shiny barrel. This gun may be sold before being posted as such on the internet.


We reserve the right to sell any internet offering to a direct sale and no not warrant the availability of any firearm that does not have a physical deposit. This gun may be withdrawn without notice for in-store sale.  Call for availability.

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LAYAWAYS:  Sometimes our "significant other" doesn't understand the beauty, craftsmanship and investment potential of one of these investor grade weapons.  In these circumstances where discretion becomes the better part of valor we will accept layaways of up to one year with at least 20% down and some activity occurring monthly to insure that after one year the sale is completed.  Cancellations of layaways forfeit 33% if done within two months, otherwise 100%. You can transfer a layaway to a consignment sale at any time. See "Legal" for exact terms.

 

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